Psaki Dismisses Catholic Bishops’ Objections to Fetal-Tissue Research: ‘Important to Invest in Science’

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., February 16, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday dismissed Catholic bishops’ concerns about the use of fetal tissue from elective abortions for scientific research.

Asked how the White House would respond to comments from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that it is “deeply offense to millions of Americans for our tax dollars to be used for research that collaborates with an industry built on the taking of innocent lives,” Psaki said that the administration “respectfully disagrees.”

“We believe that it’s important to invest in science and look for opportunities to cure diseases and I think that’s what this is hopeful to do,” Psaki said of the administration’s decision to reverse a Trump-era ban on researchers’ use of fetal tissues from elective abortions.

The National Institutes of Health announced it would lift the ban in a post on its website on April 16. The NIH and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will also no longer convene the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board, according to Catholic Philly.

The board was convened under Trump to review research applications for NIH grants, cooperative agreements, and research and development contracts that proposed using fetal tissue from elective abortions.

The Trump administration also severed contracts with outside institutions that used fetal stem cells for research.

The reversal comes after 26 House Democrats called on HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to change the policy, according to Roll Call.

The chairman of the U.S. bishop’s pro-life committee last week called on the Biden administration to fund research “that does not rely upon body parts taken from innocent children killed through abortion.”

“The bodies of children killed by abortion deserve the same respect as that of any other person,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann said. “Our government has no right to treat innocent abortion victims as a commodity that can be scavenged for body parts to be used in research.”

“It is unethical to promote and subsidize research that can lead to legitimizing the violence of abortion,” he added. “Researchers have demonstrated that we can do effective scientific research and develop efficacious clinical treatments without harvesting tissue from aborted babies.”

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